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Massena government to offer $1,000 reward to catch vandals

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MASSENA - Wanted: vandals who have desecrated some of Massena’s playgrounds, parks, beaches and neighborhoods.

The reward: $1,000 of town funding.

The Massena Town Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to set aside $1,000 from the supervisor’s budget to create a reward fund for information leading to the arrest of vandals, pending a legal review and approval from town attorney Eric Gustafson.

Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said he was fed up with reports of vandalism in public areas around Massena.

“I think it’s time for the town government to fight back,” he said.

Calling the vandals “miscreants,” Mr. Gray said the Massena Police Department would continue to handle all vandalism investigations. If someone phones in a tip or provides information leading to the arrest of one of the vandals, they would receive a reward. His idea is to separate the $1,000 into 10 $100 rewards.

“My guess is, $100 is going to smoke someone out of the woodwork,” he said. “Maybe we won’t use any of the money. I hope we use all of it.”

Vandalism has grown to a point where more action is needed, Mr. Gray said. Last month, vandals spread an inch and a half of loose stones across the Springs Park bandshell, which also stank of urine. They also have struck the Massena Town Beach and Alcoa Field tennis courts.

Recreation Superintendent Richard A. Boprey said someone also recently ripped off a toilet paper dispenser and broke a sink in a Bushnell Field bathroom. And at the wooden playground, recreation crews had to replace 20 2-by-2s to fix railings that are repeatedly being broken. “It’s crazy and it’s getting out of control,” Mr. Gray said. “Little kids aren’t ripping 2-by-2s out of the wooden playground. Some idiot that is a lot older than them is doing it.”

Other town board members supported Mr. Gray’s proposal, provided Mr. Gustafson determines it to be a legal use of public monies.

“Your concept is a good idea, Joe. Can we legally do it?” Councilman Charles A. Raiti asked.

“If we can, I’m all for it,” Councilman Albert N. Nicola added.

The “supervisor’s budget” funds administrative expenses in the town hall, such as service contracts and office supplies. Approximately $9,600 of the $18,000 appropriated remains to be spent this year, according to Bookkeeper Nancy Fregoe.

Town officials said they hoped the village’s Board of Trustees would provide matching reward funds. Mayor James F. Hidy said he would be interested in beginning a discussion on that with fellow board members.

“I really commend the town for taking a stance on this and creating a measure that would help the village and the town as well,” he said. “If it would help deter it, I’m all for anything.”

Past vandalism arrests have occurred through information provided by an eyewitness or acquaintance of the offenders, he said.

“Usually if it’s more than one person creating these things, somebody is going to tell somebody,” he said. “These things have a tendency of resurrecting, if you will, through third parties.”

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